Synopses & Reviews
German rider and equine veterinarian Dr. Gerd Heuschmann is well-known in dressage circles—admired for his plain speaking regarding what he deems the incorrect and damaging training methods commonly employed by riders and trainers involved in competition today. Here, he presents an intelligent and thought-provoking exploration of both classical and "modern" training methods, including "hyperflexion" (also known as Rollkur), against a practical backdrop of the horse's basic anatomy and physiology. In a detailed yet comprehensible fashion, Dr. Heuschmann describes parts of the horse's body that need to be correctly developed by the dressage rider. He then examines how they function both individually and within an anatomical system, and how various schooling techniques affect these parts for the good, or for the bad. Using vivid color illustrations of the horse's skeletal system, ligaments, and musculature, in addition to comparative photos depicting "correct" versus "incorrect" movement—and most importantly, photos of damaging schooling methods—Dr. Heuschmann convincingly argues that the horse's body tells us whether our riding is truly gymnasticizing and "building the horse up," or simply wearing it down and tearing it apart. He then outlines his ideal "physiological education" of the horse. Training should mirror the mental and physical development of the horse, fulfilling "classical" requirements—such as regularity of the three basic gaits, suppleness, and acceptance of the bit—rather than disregarding time-tested values for quick fixes that could lead to the degradation of the horse's well-being. Dr. Heuschmann's assertion that the true objectives of dressage schooling must never be eclipsed by simple "mechanical perfection" is certain to inspire riders at all levels to examine their riding, their riding goals, and the techniques they employ while pursuing them.
"An excellent book not only for those involved with dressage, but for the hunter/jumper/combined training disciplines as well." Today's Equestrian
"I strongly recommend this book for all. This book is a must for anyone with any pretentions to riding." British Horse
"Packed with provocative, inspiring information. Read this remarkable book." The Aiken Horse
"Should be given as compulsory reading to all judges, trainers, ridersboth competitve and weekendand breeders." Nathalie Todd, member, The Classical Riding Club
"This is a very important book for riders because Heuschmann addresses the current tendency to derail classical dressage riding." USDF Connection (March 14, 2011)
Describing the basic anatomy and physiology of the horse, this book by an experienced veterinarian identifies widely-used incorrect training methodsespecially in dressagethat can undermine a horse's health and well-being. Starting with the question Who is responsible for this? the book looks at breeders, breed associations, instructors, judges, riders, spectators, and the governing bodies of horse sports. The hyperflexion issue, the discussion shows, is that training affects horses both for good and for ill, and riders should reject any methods that cause pain or fail to respect the mental habits and physiological needs of their animals.
About the Author
Dr. Gerd Heuschmann is a veterinarian with a research interest in the training of horses in equestrian sports.